These rich chocolate cupcakes are topped with a light meringue-based cherry buttercream.
Chocolate cupcakes topped with meringue buttercream are always a winning combination, in my opinion. This recipe is no exception. The cake batter is very similar to the one I use in my chocolate espresso layer cake, one of the most popular recipes on the blog. The cherry frosting is comprised of my standard meringue buttercream packed with cherries and some orange juice for brightness. You’re going to love these!
- I’ve tested variations of these cupcakes with heavy cream, half & half and buttermilk. Each way will work so I recommend using what you have as opposed to making a special trip to the store.
If your buttercream breaks (it will look like cottage cheese), don’t panic. This has happened to me so many times and it’s actually very easy to fix. It just means that the butter is separating from the egg whites and needs to be brought back together. The best way to fix broken buttercream is to scoop 2-3 tablespoons of it into a small ramekin and microwave it for about 7-10 seconds. With the stand mixer running on high speed, add it back into the buttercream. Keep repeating this process until the buttercream comes back together. Works for me every time.
- Check out my post on buttercream basics for more info!
- Love cupcakes? Be sure to check out my Vanilla Maple Whiskey Cupcakes as well as my Pumpkin Spiced Cupcakes with Orange Curd.
Natural Vs. Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder
This recipe uses Dutch-process cocoa powder. Did you know that different types of cocoa powder can produce different results in your recipe? If you’d like to know more about this, check out my post Natural vs. Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder.
Homemade Buttermilk Substitute
Did you know you can make homemade buttermilk from scratch to use in this recipe? Save yourself a trip to the store by checking out my post How To Make Buttermilk Substitute!
Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes
for the cupcakes
- 7 ounces all-purpose flour (approximately 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 ounces unsweetened cocoa powder (approximately 1/2 cup)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cup buttermilk or half-and-half (see note)
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 9 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
- 16 ounces granulated sugar (2 cups)
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
for the buttercream
- 8 ounces granulated sugar (1 cup)
- 1/2 cup water
- 6 large egg whites
- 16 ounces unsalted butter, cut into cubes and at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice, room temperature
- 2 cups frozen pitted cherries, thawed (fresh pitted cherries work great as well)
Prepare the cupcakes:
- Line 2 large muffin tins with cupcake liners. Preheat the oven to 350°F and place oven racks in the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Lightly spray each liner with baking spray (this is optional, but it will help prevent the cupcakes from sticking to the liners).
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed for several minutes. Scrape down the sides and the paddle. Add the eggs on low speed, one at a time, scraping down the sides all the way to the bottom of the bowl, until they’re completely incorporated.
- On medium-low speed, alternate between adding the dry and wet ingredients over the course of a minute, until the ingredients are just mixed evenly. Give the bowl one more scrape, all the way to the bottom, to make sure there are no patches of flour or butter. This step is very important. Turn the mixer back on medium speed for another 30 seconds to bring some structure to the batter.
- Evenly distribute the batter between the cupcake liners. They should each be around 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 22 minutes, or until the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean with a toothpick. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan.
Prepare the buttercream:
- Add sugar and water to a medium sized sauce pot. Cover and turn the heat to high. Once the liquid begins to simmer and steam has developed, remove the cover (this helps prevent crystallization). Using a candy thermometer, cook the sugar to the soft boil stage, 235-240 degrees F.
- While the sugar is cooking, whisk the egg whites on high speed in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until a soft peak has formed.
- Turn the mixer speed down to medium low and very slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg whites. This will make the whites safe to consume. Don’t pour the hot syrup directly into the meringue or you’ll get scrambled eggs.
- Once the syrup is completely incorporated, turn the speed to high and allow the meringue to continue to form a stiff peak while cooling down. Mix on high until the meringue has reached room temperature. To speed up this 15-20 minute process, ice packs can be placed around the bowl.
- While the meringue is cooling, puree the cherries in a blender or food processor. If the cherries are still cold, microwave them briefly until they’re room temperature or lukewarm. Buttercream has a tendency to break when cold ingredients are added.
- When the meringue reaches room temperature, it’s time to add the butter. VERY SLOWLY, with the mixer on medium low speed, begin to add the pieces of chopped butter, allowing each piece of butter to incorporate before adding the next. It’s natural for the meringue to deflate slightly during this process. See notes on how to deal with a broken buttercream if you run into issues during this step.
- Once the butter is incorporated, add the orange juice. Next, begin adding the cherry puree, 2 tablespoons at a time, until it is all incorporated.
- To pipe the cupcakes, place the buttercream in a pastry bag with a decorative tip of choice. Pipe the buttercream evenly onto each cupcake and serve.
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
For immediate help troubleshooting a recipe, please email me using the form on my contact page. I’ll try to respond to urgent questions as quickly as possible! For all general questions, please leave a comment here :)
Kiran @ KiranTarun.com says
I dread phone calls these days. Don’t ask me why, because I don’t really know the answer. I’m a chatterbox in nature. Shocker, I know.
I could use these cupcakes for self-soothing. Yum :)
Caroline Hurley says
We are one in the same person, I swear! It’s so easy to text or email to communicate, but it does make it hard to really get to know people. But…I DO know you (in real life! Whoohoo!) and know that you’re one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met! Oh…and you bake a pretty damn good cupcake! :)
oh so beautiful and so delicious
Helen @ Scrummy Lane says
So very true and sorry you got hurt. :-(
The cupcakes are just beautiful … like a work of art!
Bianca Garcia says
I like this reminder of connecting in person with friends. I also like chocolate and cherry together :) Hope everything’s okay!
You are so right about focusing on those around us. I will say that I’ve met a lot of people through my blog who are good friends but the ones next door always look out for me. I should make them some chocolate cherry cupcakes!
Jen Laceda says
Oh, sorry to hear about those hurtful things. I hope you are on the “mend” now. On a lighter note, these cupcakes are so dreamy. Chocolate and cherry are two of my fave flavours.
Sophia Del Gigante says
I really need to try this!! I never tried a buttercream like this ever! Sounds really interesting!
Jennifer, this post made me sad but it also resonates. I’m so sorry that you’ve been hurt deeply – betrayal is an awful feeling and it’s hard not to lose faith. I do think that it’s worth it to stay open to people though even if it means being hurt multiple times in your life. I’m the worst, btw. I have a few very close friends and that seems to be all that I can handle. Internet relationships are easier because they remain pretty shallow, but shallow = not particularly satisfying. So many times relationships, parties, church services, etc. etc, feel terribly artificial to me and I end up BEING artificial in them. I’m rambling now and obviously don’t have any answers. But I’m empathetic. AND I like you, I think you’re really talented, and I’m glad your here.
So about those cupcakes. Yum! And I believe we’ve already discussed what to do with any extra frosting. :) Have a great weekend Jennifer!
Savory Simple says
Thanks, Marissa. Your comment means a lot :)
Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen says
Beautiful cupcakes, Jen! I just adore everything cherry and chocolate. My friend, you are speaking my language. This post really hit home. I detest the phone as well–despite the fact that I am a chatterbox. When returning to blogging after being sick for 8 months, I decided to give myself a break from even social media to get my blog updated, reach out to friends and get some work done in the kitchen. I will be back to Twitter, etc. next week. With spring coming, I hope you will get out and enjoy those close friendships. Meanwhile, I think this whole conundrum has to do with our geeky-nerdy traits as food bloggers. We immerse ourselves in our work, and, by nature, we are driven in the aspects of food blogging that take up so much dang time. Only another food blogger can truly comprehend this. Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend!
Kim Beaulieu of Cravings of a says
I swear dealing with social media has become my least favourite thing. People say things they would never say to you in real life. It’s horrible. I’m more of real life gal. I’m always telling my son to spend more time developing real relationships with real people in real life. The internet is such BS, people pretend they are perfect and everything is such an illusion. It’s so sad. I’m all about being 100% myself, all of the time. I just cannot pretend in life, it’s not in me.
I think about my parent’s generation, and even mine (I’m old, lol) where if you were friends with people you were friends for life. I still see two of my best friends from my childhood all the time. We all grew up on the same block, they ended up married and live two blocks from me. My brother’s best friend lives across the street from me, he bought a house on our childhood street just like I did. I think these days relationships are too disposable. Instead of working things out people treat others like they treat “things”, everything is replaceable. It’s sad. I’m friends with every old boyfriend, every childhood friend and most of my high school friends. I think I’ve had two people ditch my friendship in all my 46 years, both were in the last two years, and sadly both were bloggers. But then I think of the awesome friends I’ve made through the business and it makes me smile. Some of you gals are like family to me.
I think you’re awesome. Anyone who would play with your heart is a fool.
Plus you’re a kick ass cook who is going to rule the interwebs so hang in there. When I think of photo inspiration your blog is one that comes to mind repeatedly. When I think of bloggers who will end up with lasting, sustainable careers I think of you. So trust yourself. I heart you. xx
Savory Simple says
Kim, you are the best. I really appreciated our talk the other night, it helped me regain some perspective on everything. I find myself pulling further and further away from social media (and if it wasn’t for my stupid FB page I would just delete my personal account altogether). But I HAVE made some really wonderful friends like you and I guess in the end it has all been worth it. :)